After the laborious Croissants last time,when Aparna mentioned we were doing a easier bread this time,I was quite relieved.But when I heard the name,I was amused.Hokkaido?Tangzhong?Apparently,it is a very popular bread in South Asian bakeries across the world.It is also known as Asian Sweet Bread and Hong Kong Pai Bo.
The Hokkaido Mild Bread owes its texture and height to the use of an interesting ingredient called Tangzhong. Basically, the Tangzhong method involves cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a roux. At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and create a “leavening” action. When the Tangzhong is added into other ingredients that go into a bread dough, it produces light, tender and fluffier bread.
Whisk together lightly the flour, water and milk in a saucepan until smooth and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring/ whisking constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth.
If you have a thermometer, cook the roux/ tangzhong till it reaches 65C (150F) and take it off the heat. If like me, you don’t have a thermometer, then watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing “lines” forming in the roux/ tangzhong as you whisk/ stir it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.
Put the flour, salt, sugar,
powdered milk and instant yeast in the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix.
In another small bowl mix the milk, cream and Tangzhong till smooth and add to the processor bowl.
Run on slow speed until the dough comes together. Now add the butter and process till you have a smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.
I made one small loaf and 5 small rolls. So I first divided my dough into two equal pieces first. Then I divided the first half into four equal pieces to make the loaf. The other half was divided into five equal pieces for five rolls.
Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape, about 1/8” thick. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold so it slightly overlaps the other fold.
Roll this folded dough with the rolling pin so the unfolded edges are stretched out to form a rectangle. Roll the rectangle from one short edge to the other, pinching the edges to seal well. Do this with each of the three larger pieces and place them, sealed edges down, in a well-oiled loaf tin. Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
To make the rolls fold them in the same manner described above, but before rolling them up, place some chocolate chip on the dough.I did one chocolate chip roll,two nutella and one with strawberry preserve.Also one small cinnamon-sugar roll. Roll the dough rectangles carefully and pinch to seal the edge.
Place each roll of dough in a well-oiled muffin cup and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes.
Carefully brush the tops of the rolls and the loaf with milk (or cream) and bake them at 170C (325F) for about 20 to 30 minutes till they are done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then unmould and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool.
Serve or else store in a bread bin. This bread stays soft and delicious even the next day. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins).
I'd highly recommend this bread to everyone who think bread baking is not as easy as it seems to be.Many a times,I've been disheartened too-sometimes the yeast was faulty,sometimes the recipe was faulty or sometimes,I might have done something wrong.This recipe is the answer-soft,pillowy and spongy,bread which you thought you only got in bakeries can now be made at home and with an almost fool-proof recipe.